EMS Tips

EMS in the Warm Zone, Ambulance Collisions

EMS belongs in the warm zone

Florida officials and anonymous first responders are disputing if paramedics were blocked from entering the Parkland high school scene, delayed from caring for victims or simply doing what they had been trained and ordered to do.

“What’s going to come out is, in the communications on several circumstances, there was the request to enter … the request was denied from Broward County,” a Florida official said.

“When you have a police agency saying we don’t want you going in, that’s a problem,” another official said. “The training since Columbine has been [that] first responders, police go in immediately with paramedics.”

Confusion during a chaotic and dangerous incident is not unexpected. Neither is confusion unexpected when recalling how the response unfolded or who was told to do what and by whom. But there should be no confusion about the law enforcement and EMS response priorities to an active shooter.

  • Stop the killing
  • Stop the dying

Law enforcement, even a solo officer, moves rapidly towards the sound of gunfire – moving upstream through evacuees – to neutralize the shooter. Simultaneously paramedics and EMTs form into Rescue Task Forces with cops to find patients in the warm zone, controlling hemorrhage and other life threats and directing movement of the injured to casualty collection points.

Train now and train often for active shooter response in your jurisdiction. Skip Kirkwood implores EMS leaders to develop policies and train. Get it done!

“If your leadership isn’t preparing you for an active shooter incident, well, they are not really leading. There are too many folks occupying leadership positions that don’t want to confront the tough issues.”

Broken down, busted up and ‘deplorable’

The condition of Houston Fire Department ambulances is “deplorable” because of heavy call volume. Ambulances have recently broken down with patient’s inside.

For a department that might be “70 ambulances short” of meeting response time standards it’s going to be tough to keep up with fleet maintenance, meeting response time standards and keeping patients and providers safe.

Sobering look at an ambulance after a collision

Seven EMS providers were injured in ambulance collisions last week.

Four EMTs were transported to the hospital after two ambulances collided en route to a call.”

Three EMS providers were injured when an ambulance and a tanker truck were involved in a crash Tuesday morning.”

Share this photo of a patient care compartment separated from its chassis and split open like a ripe melon with your providers. It’s a sobering reminder to:

  • Slow down
  • Limit use of lights and sirens
  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Secure equipment
  • Advocate for stricter design and construction standards
  • Hope for the best

By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.